Where will Rooney go?
The news that Wayne Rooney could be looking for a new club in the near future has sent a wave of excitement around some of the top clubs in Europe. One of the world's top strikers, Rooney would command a place in any team on the planet when he is on form, but the race for his signature will be limited to those who can afford his services. ESPNsoccernet takes a look at where the England striker could end up.
Real Madrid - Jose Mourinho's side have never hidden the fact that they would love to sign Rooney. Teaming him up again with £80 million-man Cristiano Ronaldo, the prospect of those two in the attacking third is mouthwatering, although Real would likely have to move on one of their current strikers. Frenchman Karim Benzema (who United were scouting before his move to Spain) seems the most likely option to go the other way and they certainly have the money to complete a sale. Rooney's personal life may benefit from a move abroad.
Chelsea - If Rooney wants to stay in England then a move to London could be on the cards. Chelsea have the cash for wages and a transfer fee and, most importantly, have a host of England players to help Rooney settle. John Terry and Ashley Cole are no strangers to dealing with controversy and Carlo Ancelotti's formation could easily switch to 4-4-2 with Didier Drogba and Rooney forming the deadliest partnership in the land. However, with the club looking to break even in time for UEFA's new financial rules, Roman Abramovich may not be that keen to sanction a deal.
Barcelona - While Barca would certainly love to sign the striker, they have already splashed out €40 million on David Villa. Their top target for the near future is Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, for whom they will have to part with at least £50 million, and Rooney's wage demands would also put a strain on the club's finances. Barca's style of play would see Rooney playing up front on his own and he would not benefit from the kind of aerial delivery that saw him score so many goals last season. That said, it's not like he would be short of chances to score.
Manchester City - It would be some move if Rooney decided to stay in Manchester. If the rumours of a fall-out with Sir Alex Ferguson are true, perhaps he would choose to join United's ''noisy neighbours'' out of spite, but he would immediately put himself in the same category as Carlos Tevez. Whether he would want to deal with the level of abuse he would receive in the Manchester derby is questionable and City's formation would see them try to squeeze both Tevez and Rooney into a lone role up front. For the sake of £250,000-a-week wages, it probably wouldn't be worth it.
Nowhere - Players who have fallen out with Fergie do not last long at Old Trafford, but there is still the possibility that he will choose to remain at the club. Rooney's problems off the pitch have put a strain on his relationship with manager, team-mates and the fans, but there is every chance that the striker can reignite his career without ever having to leave Manchester. A commitment to a new deal will certainly clear up the issue, but United can't afford to wait very long as he will be available on a free transfer in 20 months' time.